“It began with a hard, slanting rain. And soon there was fire, too, but it wasn’t fire. Not really. It was the piece of Asteroid 9918 Darwinia breaking up above Earth, flaming as they entered the atmosphere.”
Teenage brothers Chance and Patrick Rain know something is wrong when they hear screams coming from the farm next door. Their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. McCafferty, appear possessed—with what, the Rains have no idea, and the terrified young McCafferty children don’t have any answers, either. But the problem only grows more serious.
A kind of parasitic spore is turning the adults of their rural hometown, Creek’s Cause, into—dare we use the “z” word? And the stream of spores is headed toward town. No one can stop it. The Rain brothers are determined to try, but the closer they get to adulthood, the closer they are to becoming part of the problem.
And the problem ain’t pretty. YA Sci-Fi Thriller published October 18th 2016 by Tor Teen. Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 thrillers.
The Rains combines the alien vs human and zombie mythos and adds in a dash of horror. Narrated in an epistolary format by Chance Rain, the book focuses on action with a strong, fast-moving plot. The rural setting is the most original aspect of the book and definitely my favorite part.
Page one dumps readers into an atmospheric moment of suspense before the real fun begins, but Chance’s second entry quickly transitions to a bare-bones kind of backstory.
I should probably introduce myself at this point.”
I rolled my eyes several times at hokey lines such as,
I’m fifteen. Fifteen in Creek’s Cause isn’t like fifteen in a lot of other places. We work hard here and start young.”
The teen characters do bear out this description, though, acting much more like young adults than like teenagers. It’s actually a nice change that the Rain brothers, Patrick and Chance, get along so well. Their strong partnership and friendship lets us focus on the action, instead of angsty drama that can sometimes characterize YA.
In fact, this novel is almost all action, with quick pacing and plenty of fight.
I reached for the blackened handles sticking up out of the forge and ripped the tongs free. As Bob came at me, I raised the glowing yellow tips up to the level of his eyeholes and let Bob’s weight carry him onto them. He impaled his face on the tongs, the membranes popping, the hot metal sinking deep, winding up somewhere near the middle of his head. I clenched the tongs hard, cinching the tongs inward toward his brain.”
Isn’t there just something deliciously creepy about using hot tongs, ripped straight from the forge, to clench someone’s brain to jelly? Yes. Way creepier than slugging someone with a bullet.
In fact, the rural atmosphere—especially the perfectly realized setting of Creek’s Cause—is what make The Rains stand out. Feral sheriffs, baling hooks used as weapons and canneries repurposed as factories of death? Please and thank you.
And I love that we have ourselves some cowboy heroes! I’m a country girl, myself. The majority of the characters feel fairly “standard country mettle,” but that doesn’t bother me.
It’s the love triangle that’s kind of…awkward. I might enjoy a love triangle, if it’s done well, but this one is a little weird. Two brothers and a girl who can’t seem to decide? It’s not serious, yet, thankfully, and I’m hoping it stays a puppy love kind of thing. But at least it’s different than most YA specimens; for once, the story is not being told by the girl who can’t decide.
Besides the love triangle, I have very few complaints. I do have mixed feelings about the speculative element. The zombie transformation—while it has a clever basis—manifests too quickly to feel remotely believable.
Then a blackness crept across his eyes until they looked like two giant pupils filling the space between the lids. And then the blackness crumbled away like ash. The breeze lifted bits of black residue out of his head. The lights of the house behind him showed in those two spots.”
This happens in seconds? Eh…I dunno. But! The aliens show some promise—what we saw of them, anyway. Book I addresses the zombies; let’s hope book II develops the aliens.
The only other problem is the CLIFF HANGER! Gah! Hurry it up, Hurwitz. You can’t just leave it like that!
Everything about this book is pretty average—except for the setting, which rocks. I am interested in seeing where book II goes with the aliens, though.
The book is fairly gory, but that probably won’t stop most readers who pick up a book like this. Recommended to big fans of sci-fi thrillers, especially with elements of horror. It’s more similar to The Maze Runner than to The Fifth Wave—it’s The Fifth Wave for action-fans instead of character-driven readers. Similar to the feel of Shusterman’s Unwind. Give to all the boys!